Political Analysis

Russian officials discuss possibility of adapting Yemen- like GCC initiative in Syria

National Yemen

Former President Saleh approves the GCC initiative

By: Taher Haidar

A number of Syrian officials recently initiated consultations with officials from the General People’s Congress (GPC) – the party of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Opinions regarding the possibility of adapting Yemen’s experience for a peaceful transition of power in Syria were reportedly sought. Also discussed was how Yemen’s revolution shifted into what the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) termed a “political crisis.”

A GPC official who preferred to remain anonymous said Yemeni GPC officials and President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi in particular – who is considered to be the first deputy of the party – hope that Syria survives its ongoing crisis just as Yemen has managed to survive its own. According to the source, GPC officials believe Syria should have early elections, with one proposal suggesting that Bashar Al-Asad be allowed to participate as a candidate.

For his part, GPC Assistant Secretary General Sadeq Abu Ras stated that the entire GCC initiative and its mechanism were personally proposed by Saleh – with the help of fellow party members. “Saleh proposed the initiative and presented it before the GCC,” he added. Abu Ras said that even though he lost his leg and other body parts in Saleh’s June 2011 assassination attempt, he believes it was Saleh who chose to leave office peacefully, to stop the shedding of blood throughout Yemen, and to do so in a democratic way which facilitated Hadi’s election as Yemen’s next president.

In an apparent attempt to distance Moscow from Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mikhail Bogdanov said on Thursday that Russia would accept a Yemeni-style transition of power in Syria “if it had the support of the Syrian people.”

Washington has continued to apply pressure on a reluctant Moscow to drop its support for Assad and to make way for a political transition, but Russia has also continued to insist that such decisions are not up to them.

“Application of the so-called Yemen scenario to resolve the Syrian conflict is possible only if Syrians themselves agree to it,” said Bogdanov. “If this scenario is discussed by the Syrians themselves and is adopted by them, we are not against it.”